Telefonica’s budget O2 brand in Spain has been offering 5G services for several months without notifying its customers or officially advertising the upgrade, according to a news report. The operator begun activating 5G services for customers with compatible handsets in December 2021 but continues to state on its website that it uses Telefonica’s 4G/LTE and 4G+ network in 97 percent of Spanish territory.
The move is not the first time O2 has secretly offered more than it advertises. Just after launching in June 2018, the low-cost brand gave customers subscribed to its 100 Mbps symmetric fiber broadband a 300 Mbps service, triple the contracted speed.
Telefonica’s 5G NSA network currently covers over 80 percent of the Spanish population, and the company has begun rolling out 5G in the 700 MHz band following the spectrum auction held last summer.
Underpromising and overdelivering is always preferable to the opposite, and O2 seems to have adopted it as a policy of sorts when it comes to network speeds. The psychology involved seems clear enough: If 5G were touted, customers would be alert to subtle differences in service and perhaps even be disappointed if it did not measure up to expectations. And expectations can be unrealistic. On the other hand, if the new network connectivity is not mentioned, users may simply enjoy the service and appreciate the speed without being aware of why, and then later one, when informed that they had been using 5G all along, be glad to continue with the service and accept price increases.
Secrecy is generally speaking not a good approach for operators to take with regard to their subscribers—transparency is far preferable, as innumerable examples prove. However, in this case, the secrecy is of such a benign nature that it is hard to imagine anyone objecting, and when consumers find out that they have already been using 5G, it will be that much easier to sell them 5G services and related products in the future.